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Confessions of a Pioneer Woman Junkie

Posted by on November 21, 2009

Confession: people sometimes scare me.  Especially people who are famous.  Today was a momentous day for me, for today I met someone famous; someone I greatly admire, and today, when I met her–my mouth worked.

I have had several brushes with fame.  Each one left me all twitter-pated and tongue-tied before, during, and for quite a long time after our clandestine meetings.  Let me recount them for you, for they are humorous and not too many in number:

1. Ken Barlow, (one time) local weatherman.

Dreamy Weather-Guy Extraordinaire.

Ken Barlow was a local celebrity during my junior high school years, and I developed such an overwhelming crush on him that I arose extra-early (note: when I was a TEENAGER) to see him co-host the early-morning news show in town.  I once bumped into him (physically) at the Science Museum while on a youth group outing; I looked up at him in wordless, desperate admiration after stepping on his beautiful shoes and spent the rest of the afternoon following him and his family around the exhibits, trying to see if my courage would allow me to finally utter my undying affections for his, um,  forecasting skills.  No such luck.  I did have a lovely conversation with him once in college, when he called me in my dorm room to answer a question I’d submitted.  But that’s a fun story for another day.

2. Gary Puckett, 1960’s musician.

There's my guy, front and center.

I grew up listening to this guy on my parents’ records.  When I was in high school I was insanely, unpopularly into “the Oldies” station and dragged a group of my friends to the State Fair to see Gray Puckett perform on a free stage.  I screamed and danced like a fool the whole show and ran over to the side of the stage post-concert to meet him and get his autograph on my “Best Of” CD jacket (I’d graduated from my parents’ record to my own music format.)  My friends stood a bit awkwardly behind me as I approached him at his table.  He greeted me with a kind smile and some variation of “why, hello, and aren’t you a bit young for my fan base?”  I don’t know what he said for certain, because suddenly everything sounded like we were underwater.  I think I just stood there, gape-mouthed, for about 20 seconds before one of my friends nudged me forward.  Or something.  I literally could not speak.  I think someone in my entourage might have mentioned I was a big fan, as if he wouldn’t have guessed from my odd muteness.  I would go to see him on the fair’s free stage with a different set of friends in college, and embarrass myself (and them) in an entirely opposite manner…by standing up on a bench and loudly declaring myself a suitable candidate for his age-inappropriate love (please tell me you’ve heard of his song “Young Girl”.  Thanks to last weeks’ episode of “Glee” you just might have.)  Anyway…yikes.

3. Vern Yip, designer

 Vern and my first baby.

Vern Yip, designer made famous on “Trading Spaces” came to a local Home & Garden show and I decided that was the best birthday celebration I could imagine…so on said date I brought Joe and a 6-month-old Max to the convention center to see him speak.  I made a sign asking for a birthday hug, which he granted as soon as he saw it upon taking the stage.  My face was probably 19 shades of red, but that sign was smart because I didn’t have to talk.  Later, during autograph time, I would find that a baby makes a great ice-breaker and/or life preserver for the easily-awed.

AND FINALLY…Number 4. Ree Drummond.


So, okay…many of you might not know who this is AT ALL, but maybe if I tell you all her web-moniker…Pioneer Woman…it will ring a bell.  Chances are if you’ve eaten anything I’ve made in the last couple of years and enjoyed it, you’ve heard me say “Oh, I got the recipe from Pioneer Woman”.  This lady has become a huge inspiration to me: she’s a mom, a wife, a riot, a writer extraordinaire.  She showed me that one can be a modern, independent woman-type and still cook for her family.  I used to feel so uncomfortable with that part of my role in the family, for some reason…I didn’t feel good at it, or interested in it, or like it was okay for me to “give in” and become some kind of domestic automaton.  Well, that didn’t end up happening, anyway.  But I did learn from her that cooking isn’t so hard, that I shouldn’t be discouraged by my mistakes, and that cooking meals for my family didn’t make me their servant; rather, I made a choice to serve them these wonderful meals and that made all the difference in my quirky brain.  Her blog inspired me to try my own hand at blogging as well.  I am grateful, because I have found this discipline of public writing to be very beneficial to my writing and sanity overall.

Ree came to sign her newly-published cookbook at the Mall of America today, so there was no question…I had to go.  It’s been on my Google calendar since her tour dates were announced.  Yeah, I’m a geek…I know you’re not surprised.  Joe encouraged me to go extra-early and while I thought that was a bit crazy, I followed his advice, which turned out to be very sage indeed.


This was roughly 1/3 of the crowd waiting at about 12:00 for the 1:00 signing.  I had arrived at 10:00 to the line; after an hour I was given a wristband and ushered along with other die-hard fans into the roped-off section to wait.  I spent a couple hours finishing my overdue library book and talking to the gals around me.  It felt gratifying to meet people who love reading about Ree’s life on the ranch as much as I do.  My one friend who reads regularly (she actually introduced me to the site) was at work for the day, so I was on my own but all the folks were friendly and kindly saved my spot when I popped out at one point. 

Ree finally arrived, and was charming, funny, and glamorous as all get-out.  Her husband and young sons were along for the ride (though literally on the amusement park rides until later on in the book signing, when they arrived to much fanfare).  Here’s a few shots of her husband, known in the blogosphere as Marlboro Man, and her two youngest “punks”, the boys.  I got a good chuckle watching their antics, as they reminded me so much of two particular guys I’d left at home…

MM taking a picture of all of us taking his picture.

Boys. Antics. Go hand-in-hand.

Anyway, to wrap-up what has turned into a very long post, I am happy to report that, while I was indeed nervous (and confessed as much to the gal of the hour, who conspiratorially co-confessed), I found my mouth to be in proper working order today. 

Look!  I'm speaking! To PW!

So I could tell her thanks for helping me to be a better mom, cook, writer, and agoraphobe myself.

Too awesome.

(P.S. Check her out yourself on  You won’t be sorry you did!)

3 Responses to Confessions of a Pioneer Woman Junkie

  1. shawna

    Did anyone tell you how happy and great you look in this picture? :)

    • administrator

      Shawna…many, many thanks for the compliment. I think I owe you a plate of brownies for all the brownie points you’re racking up!

  2. shawna

    Ummm, brownies. I like my purple springy guy.

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